Bloomingdale’s has promoted Denise Magid, who has been a merchandising executive there for four years, to chief merchandising officer, effective Tuesday.
The Macy’s-owned department store has created the role for the first time in its 151-year history, according to a company press release.
Magid began her merchandising career at Lord &Taylor, spent 11 years at Saks Fifth Avenue and was chief merchant at Intermix, per LinkedIn. She joined Bloomingdale’s in 2019 as a general merchandising manager in ready to wear and concessions, adding off price in 2020 and women’s accessories in 2021, per the release.
While Macy’s has toiled away at a turnaround that in many ways undoes the great expansion it undertook early this century, its smaller Bloomingdale’s banner has yielded stronger and more consistent results. In Q4, comps at the namesake business fell 3.3%, and at Bloomingdale’s rose 0.6%. For the full year, while Macy’s active customers count fell 4% to 42.7 million, at Bloomingdale’s that base expanded by 5% to 4.1 million.
In its release, Bloomingdale’s, which celebrated its 150th anniversary last year, called itself “America's only nationwide, full-line, upscale department store,” a description that many would also apply to Nordstrom. In the U.S., Bloomingdale’s operates 34 full-line stores and 20 outlet stores, while Nordstrom runs 94 full-line stores and 241 off-price Rack stores.
Traditionally, the chief executive at Bloomingdale’s has also served as its chief merchant, according to Mark Cohen, director of retail studies at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Business. Bloomingdale’s may be stepping up its competition against the Seattle-based retailer, he said by email.
Indeed, the appointment of a specialized chief merchant after all these years could be a shot across the bow, according to Thomai Serdari, a luxury retail expert and professor of marketing at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Nordstrom in 2019 opened its first full-line store in New York City a few blocks from the Bloomingdale’s flagship.
“I see Nordstrom as the market leader, and if this is the result, it is great. A little competition can work wonders in pushing the marketplace in the right direction,” she said by email. “The appointment of Denise Magid as chief merchandising officer at Bloomingdale's communicates an important message, loudly and clearly: The department store is well and thriving in the USA or, at least, it is destined to become a vehicle for renewed consumer confidence in brick-and-mortar shopping and related experiences.”
While the move may be a vote of confidence in the embattled department store model, it also shows that Bloomingdale’s is aware that it’s serving a 21st century shopper. That means omnichannel conveniences and distinctive merchandising, she said.
“A brand as strong as Bloomingdale's with a lifespan of 150 years is in the process of internally reorganizing so as to meet the complex and multifaceted expectations of the American consumer,” Serdari said. “By having a chief merchant in place at the top, Bloomingdale's clearly places emphasis on developing a unique point of view, rather than simply acting as a vehicle for brands to showcase their products.”